Torey Van Oot
7 hours ago - News

Twin Cities gets "The Bachelorette" treatment

A headshot of "The Bachelorette" star Michelle Young.
Photo courtesy of ABC/"The Bachelorette"

Minnesota's Michelle Young sets off on another televised journey to (hopefully) find true love this week.

Driving the news: Young, a teacher at a Burnsville public school, makes her debut Tuesday night as "The Bachelorette" in the latest season of the long-running dating show.

Why it matters: Well, it really doesn't. But it's fun to cheer on a local leading lady, especially for those of us who identify as #BachelorNation fans.

Nick Halter
Oct 15, 2021 - News

What the Midwest Regional Rail Plan could mean for Twin Cities travel

A route map for the Federal Railroad Administration's newly released Midwest Regional Rail Plan.
Image: Federal Railroad Administration

The Twin Cities would be a main pillar under the Federal Railroad Administration's newly released Midwest Regional Rail Plan.

Zoom out: The plan would make Chicago the hub of the Midwest, with four pillar locations — Twin Cities, Detroit, St. Louis, and Indianapolis — that would have high frequency service.

Torey Van Oot
Oct 11, 2021 - News

More evictions ahead for Minnesotans behind on rent

Illustration of a cardboard moving box with the facade of a house drawn on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Another wave of Minnesotans who are behind on their rent could face evictions this week.

What's happening: Starting Tuesday, property owners can end leases for any legal reason and file to evict tenants who are behind on rent but haven't applied to the state's rent assistance program.

  • Landlords are required to give 15-day notice.

Why it matters: Evictions destabilize families and have financial repercussions that make it difficult to rent in the future.

  • Landlords, meanwhile, argued this summer that the ongoing protections were putting them in a tough spot, especially when it came to evicting problematic tenants.
Torey Van Oot
Oct 7, 2021 - COVID

Most Minnesota agency employees compliant with vaccine mandate

Data: Minnesota Department of Management and Budget; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

A majority of state employees subject to the Walz administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate have gotten a shot.

By the numbers: As of Sept. 28, 18,614 of the 25,357 qualifying state agency workers had submitted proof of vaccination, per Minnesota Department of Management and Budget data.

Still unclear is how many employees who declined to comply are facing unpaid leave and other disciplinary actions, as Fox9 notes.

Of note: Because the rule only applies to those who need to work in the office, the number of eligible workers can vary from week to week.

The bottom line: The numbers could preview adoption rates as vaccine mandates spread throughout the public and private sector.

Nick Halter
Oct 7, 2021 - Business

Why buying a car is nuts right now

An aerial view of a mostly empty car lot
Many Minnesota dealers have empty lots, like this one in California. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Minnesotans trying to buy a vehicle before winter are finding bare dealer lots and long delays.

  • I learned that first-hand, and fast, while shopping for a car to accommodate my third child on the way.

Why it matters: There's a national vehicle shortage tied to a shortage of semiconductor chips, so people are having to wait for their preferred vehicle and pay more when they get it.

  • "Everybody's paying sticker price or above sticker to get something they want," said Scott Lambert, president of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association. "In my 30 years doing this, I've never seen anything like this."

I was interested in buying a used vehicle, but the prices were so high that it didn't make a lot of sense.

  • Used car prices are up 34% compared to last year. Why spend a few thousand dollars less on a four-year-old vehicle with 50,000 miles and no warranty?

What they're saying: Reader Deb Halvorson wanted to buy a used Subaru Crosstrek, but her dealership didn't have any. She ended up buying a new one.

  • Reader Brian Powers also opted for new over used for the same reason when buying a Volkswagen Altas. The good news: The dealership gave him $1,000 more for his Subaru Forester than what he would've gotten when he considered trading it in last year.

State of play: Auto makers are focusing on building trucks and SUVs, which are more profitable, Lambert said.

  • Before the chip shortage, 86% of new vehicle sales in Minnesota were trucks and SUVs, but now that number is 90%, he said.

What's ahead: It could be a while before the market balances out, Lambert said. Many of the vehicles rolling into dealerships this fall have already been spoken for and the chip shortage is now expected to last through 2022.

  • "The Upper Midwest market gets slower in January and February," Lambert said. "That's usually when we catch up on inventory and get ready for spring sales. I don't know that we're going to be given the luxury of getting caught up this year."

I ended up buying a Honda Pilot after finding the right trim on I then called Inver Grove Heights Honda and put down a deposit. Now, I'm the midst of waiting six weeks for the vehicle to be built and shipped from Alabama.

  • I paid sticker price.
Torey Van Oot
Updated Oct 6, 2021 - News

St. Paul City Council considers "pioneering" anti-tobacco proposal

cigarette sales
The ordinance would effectively ban promotions that lower the cost of tobacco products below a mandatory minimum, like the ones seen here in a store in Califorinia. Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

St. Paul is poised to adopt some of the nation's toughest rules aimed at reducing tobacco sales.

What's happening: All seven City Council members will formally introduce a proposed ordinance Wednesday that would set a $10 minimum price for packs of cigarettes and ban coupons and discounts for all other tobacco products, including vape pens.

  • The proposal, which already has the backing of Mayor Melvin Carter, would also significantly reduce the number of tobacco licenses moving forward.

Why it matters: Supporters say raising prices is one of the most effective tactics for reducing use of tobacco, which causes cancer and other adverse health effects.

  • They argue the promotions ban will close a loophole shops and wholesalers use now to get around minimum prices set by a state formula.
Nick Halter
Oct 6, 2021 - News

Body cam videos show Minneapolis police behavior during 2020 protests

Body camera footage of two Minneapolis police officers pounding fists.
Two Minneapolis police officers pound fists after one says he hit a protestor with a rubber bullet. Image: Body cam footage obtained by Minnesota Reformer

On the fifth night after George Floyd's murder, Minneapolis police officers grew militant with protesters out after curfew, according to new body camera footage obtained by the Minnesota Reformer.

Details: The footage, the last to be released by an attorney representing Jaleel Stallings, shows officers hunting people, celebrating direct hits on protesters with less lethal rubber bullets and insinuating that only people of color were looting and starting fires.

Torey Van Oot
Oct 5, 2021 - Politics

Minnesota House majority leader running for Hennepin County attorney

Ryan Winkler
Ryan Winkler. Photo: Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler will run for Hennepin County attorney next year.

What he's saying: In a statement released Tuesday, the Golden Valley Democrat said he'd focus on addressing "root causes of crime such as mental health and addiction while focusing prosecutorial resources on seeking justice for victims of violent crime."

  • He also said he'd work to create an independent Police Accountability Unit.
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